If you're wondering where former All-Pro linebacker Whitney Mercilus will sign in 2022, wonder no more. The 31-year-old joins a growing number of NFL players who have opted to retire after what can arguably be viewed as short football careers -- announcing via Instagram that he has decided to call it a career after 10 seasons. In an official statement attached to his decision, Mercilus shows gratitude for all who believed in him, despite having not played a single snap prior to high school.
"After 10 seasons in the NFL, I have finally made the decision to hang up my cleats and announce my retirement," he wrote. "Looking back, I was just a kid from Akron, Ohio, who didn't start playing the game until I was a freshman in high school. I had no idea at that moment how my life could change forever. There's so much this game has taught me. From being a great teammate, to being a forever student of the sport. From understanding the importance of integrity, discipline, and a relentless pursuit of being the best athlete and person on and off the field.
"From adapting to new environments and getting comfortable being uncomfortable. To pushing my body and mind to its absolute limits, and understanding the importance of taking care of mind, body and spirit. The lessons I've learned in this game, I will take with me for the rest of my life."
Mercilus went on to thank both the Green Bay Packers -- whom he signed with in October before suffering a torn biceps that would end his season -- as well as the Houston Texans, the team that selected him in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and his NFL home for nine of his 10 seasons as a pro, including a four-year, $53.5 million extension signed in 2019. Mercilus racked up 57 career sacks in Houston, along with 357 combined tackles and 13 forced fumbles prior to his abbreviated stint in Green Bay.
He retires as one of the most notable Texans players in recent franchise history, having helped players like future first-ballot Hall of Fame linebacker J.J. Watt anchor the defense in Houston.